Napster was once a name synonymous with illegal downloading. However, the original peer-to-peer iteration of the music service shut down in July 2001, re-emerging in 2003 as the legitimate music-streaming service it is today. Napster now offers web users the ability to stream tracks from its 15 million-strong catalogue that covers “every genre”. There are 13 genres to choose from including jazz, Latin and soundtracks as well as the usual suspects. You can explore other users’ recommendations, single and albums charts and even a mood manager that lets you choose a colour and suggests music based on your selection. You can create their own personalised playlists by dragging and dropping tracks into their library.
Alternatively, you can choose from the ready-made radio stations and playlists and even get music recommendations. A Napster library can be accessed from any PC, laptops or even net-connected TVs or hi-fis that support the service (these include Phillips, Sonos and Logitech devices) and has the relevant software installed. Google Android, iPhone and iPad users can even stream tracks offline on their handset, providing they subscribe to the Unlimited plus mobile service.
Napster also offers an MP3 download store where users can listen to 30-second snippets of a track for downloading an MP3 version of the track straight to their hard-drive. As the MP3s, which are priced from 59p, are DRM-free they can be transferred to iPods and other digital music players as well as being burned to CD. MP3 downloads are available 256Kbps stereo files while tracks streamed to PCs are offered at 128Kbps and mobile tracks are streamed at 64Kbps.
There are two streaming options, Unlimited which is priced at £5 per month or a one-off yearly payment of £50 that allows users to stream as many tracks as they’d like. Alternatively for £10 per month or an annual payment of £100, web users can stream as many tracks as they like to both their home PCs and their iPhones, iPads or Google Android smartphones